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pre-op pondering



Hi – this ridiculously long entry really is for me to organize all the questions I’ve been having as I progress on this journey. I don’t expect answers, because in many cases it’s different for different people. I’ve been on VST for many months now, reading every experience I can. I think this has been instrumental in educating me enough that I feel comfortable proceeding with the pursuit of the sleeve. I feel I’ve learned a lot about what to possibly expect. But I’ve also learned enough to know that people’s experiences can vary greatly or be very similar. So in that spirit, I’m committing to the blogosphere my personal ponderings. I intend to revisit all these sometime post surgery and have some answers.

- Will I have to fight much with insurance to get approved? I’m working with my surgeon’s office to do the 6 month thing, and have requested all my files be sent to surgeon’s office to see how many of the 6 months have already been met. I feel like a show pony doing a tap dance – I will do whatever they want! Just approve me already!

- Once approved by insurance, when can the surgeon schedule me? Will they bump me up if I say pretty please?

- When I have my date, will my sweet husband decide he’s too scared of the risk of me doing this? I have been patiently educating this wonderful, naturally fit & athletic man about what it’s like to have a weight problem, and I believe he does understand, after many long talks , why I can’t “just try harder”….

- When I have my date will *I* get scared of the risk and freak out? I’ve read on VST that it’s common. I am reading VST every day and doing some hard core soul searching. I want to be as mentally and emotionally prepared as possible. Even so, some fear is to be expected…just hope it’s not the high BP kine, or the kine where you jump off the OR table in the gown where your butt’s hanging out and run away lol

- When I check in the hospital for surgery, will I be able to let go and not worry about how my family is doing while I’m in surgery? Will I focus on worrying what my husband will have for lunch, or will I be thinking about my stomach being cut out….on second thought, probably better to wonder what hubby is having for lunch.

- What will it be like to go under anesthetic? What will it be like to wake up? Will I say anything embarrassing? Will I sing? Will I tell jokes?

- Will the surgeon be able to do the single incision at my belly button as planned? How big will the incision be? Will my belly button ever look the same? Or will he need to do additional incisions? Can’t imagine my gi-normous stomach coming out a little bitty puka. Does he cut it up to get it out? Or fold it? Or roll it up like a yoga mat? Do I really wanna know? Glad I won’t be awake to see :]

- Will I be in much pain when I wake up? Will I be nauseous? Lord I’d rather be in pain than throw up. VST shows a wide variety of how people feel waking up. I know there are a lot of factors including how I react to the anesthesia and pain meds.

- Will I be able to walk and sip water easily? I read and read here that I should “walk walk walk, sip sip sip”. That will be my job, hope I’m good at it.

- Will each day get better and better? What will be my worst day?

- When I come home, will I be able to sleep in my bed ? Will I be exhausted? I’m exhausted all the time anyway now so maybe it won’t be much different :mellow:

- Will I have difficulty with swallowing water? This has been something I’ve tried really hard to imagine and honestly it is pretty much beyond my realm of imagination. To have a hard time with a teeny sip of water….what about my own spit? Is it hard to swallow that? Will I drool? OK I’m being silly. But seriously…. Will I even have spit if I can’t drink a decent amount of water?!

- Will my incision heal nicely or will my weird-@ss skin react to the bandage or whatever doc uses. Will I get itchy? Hivey? Will I be able to take my allergy medicine?

- How long will I need pain medicine? Will it help? Will I need an acid blocker right away? Will it help?

- Will I be a slow lose or a fast loser? Honestly, doesn’t matter much to me, so long as I’m a BIG loser!

- Will my tastes change? OMG I want to lose my sweet tooth! And my Mexican food tooth!

- What will I learn about my relationship with food? I know I am already exploring this, and I want to find a counselor sooner than later. I truly believe that I am not an emotional eater. I do believe that I am a hard core food addict though. Explaining that will be another entry some time.

- How soon will I feel human again after this major surgery? How soon will I feel like going back to work? So MANY different experiences with other VST folks. This question is truly unpredictable as far as I can tell. He he he …. Oh I’d say I never want to go back to work…..cuz it’s work. But how soon will I be able to go back. Unless of course I suddenly become independently wealthy during my recovery. Even then, I’d want to go back and organize my files…. :unsure:

- Will I experience the “buyer’s remorse” phase like so many do? How long will it last for me?

- Will I experience the moodiness and depression some feel? I wonder…but knowing it’s a common occurrence will help me battle it if it does show up. Depression is a sneaky monster, but knowing it’s hormones is a great way to arm myself in that battle.

- Will I experience the other thing the ladies on VST sometimes talk about in regards to the hormones after surgery? Will I finally tire out my hubby insteada the other way around? :P

- What will it be like to finally have success in a weight loss endeavor and know I can make it long term. I know it will be work, and I know I will be embarking on a major life change. But how will it feel to know I actually have a great chance of achieving my goals? How exciting! Happy dance! :lol:

- Will I lose hair? I know many people do….understandably there’s lots of discussion about it. Take biotin, but be prepared for hair growth to increase everywhere on the body :blink: Also, Biotin helps with regrowth, not preventing loss. Eat lots of protein. Well hell, this is a motivator for sure! I know with the fresh sleeve it will be difficult to eat. But I will make damn sure what I do eat will be protein! Meh, if it falls out , it will grow back. I would embrace the added body all the little short hair would give to my maine. Snick – I hope to remember to be so flippant if/when my hair is laying in clumps in the shower drain :huh:

- Will I have loose skin? Hmmm…probably. I aim to strength train to help with this, and I hope I’m being realistic to think it won’t be major for me, but no doubt there will be some. And I hope I’m cool with it. I tell myself that right now I don’t look good dressed OR naked, so at least losing 120# I would look good dressed. But the truth is I just want to FEEL good and I need to lose significant weight to feel good. So I will take the saggy skin in whatever degree it comes. I don’t aspire to work for Victoria Secret. And who knows….maybe, just maybe, if I am able to become super athletic, over the years the saggy skin will tighten itself up a bit. Because of my raging muscles lol

- I can’t wait to be an Active Person and lead an Active Lifestyle! So I know all the things I want to do: weight training, spinning and/or cycling, long distance hiking, surfing, stand up paddle boarding, zumba, other dancing, pilates, yoga, maybe jogging??, rock climbing, horseback riding, tennis, racquet ball….I just wonder which one will be my favorite? I sooooo look forward to finding out!

- And the elephant in the room of course is – will I have complications? I don’t want to get too much into this particular topic. Suffice to say I have read the stories on VST of the folks who have had complications while healing. This is part of the soul searching I talked about at the beginning of this post. I understand there are serious risks to this very drastic surgery. It makes me a little sad to think that I have gotten to the point where I know that my quality of life and my hopes for the future are worth the risks of this surgery. But I truly believe this is the case. I will be a model patient, and I have faith in my surgeon & his team,........and the rest is in God’s hands. If I have complications, I pray He sees fit to bring me through it so I can stick around and do good things for the world.


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Wow, those are a lot of questions, lol! I will try and answer some of them for you about how my experience went (and how my life is 10 months later). Basically, your surgeon will schedule you once they know how they're going to get paid. So either through insurance approval coming through or you figuring out how to pay a lump sum. Then, at some point before surgery you will go on the pre-op liquid diet. I was really worried about this but it was actually amazingly easy. I really enjoyed the way my body felt on the liquid diet. Very light and bouncy! When you go to the hospital on surgery day you will be taken to pre-op and scrubbed and gowned and at some point they will give you an injection to help you relax. At this point you're not going to care whats going on around you! Then they wheel you into surgery and put a drug into your IV and before you can count to 3 you're out like a light and then waking up in post-op. Post-op anesthesia recovery is different for everyone but I get really cold, get the shakes, and a bit queasy. I've had surgery before and have had that reaction so I let them know before hand and they had lots of warm blanquets and medicine for me. I'm not going to lie, you had surgery so you will have some sort of discomfort but I personally didn't find it to be that bad. Plus I was hooked up to a pain pump for 2 days and found that it managed my discomfort easily. As for worrying about your husband and his meals, I would recommend just cooking a bunch of stuff for him and putting it in the freezer so he can just reheat it. I know that after I was back on solid food I really just kind of stuck to eggs, cheese and tuna fish for awhile because I wasn't interested in food. My stomach was also VERY picky about what it would tolerate and it was definitely a trial figuring it out. I still can't eat some foods that my doctor recommended (yogurt) and that I used to love. It's strange but my taste buds have definitely changed!

It is hard to get used to drinking because at first you really have to sip constantly throughout the day, even if you dont want to. I swear my water bottle was glued to my hand for the first few months. Now, 10 months later I can drink bigger amounts so it makes it easier. I still can't gulp water like I used to, but I can actually drink like a regular person.

My weight loss was very, very fast for the first six months and then it slowed down which, for me, was good both mentally and physically. I had, and have, a bit of loose skin that will show up when I drop weight quickly in a small amount of time (Ex: 10 lbs in one week during a nasty case of pneumonia) but it has tightened back up every time for me. I haven't had buyers remorse at all, nor have a grieved for what I've given up. Yeah, it was a huge change and sometimes it was hard to deal with mentally but I've always kept in mind that I've gained much more than I've lost (no pun intended). I now run, yoga, kickbox, climb, zipline, ride fair rides, date and do a variety of other 'normal' activities...which means more to me than being able to eat a cheeseburger and fries. I've also kept one pair of my old size 24 jeans and whenever I get down during a stall I just slip those bad boys on and laugh that I now can fit both legs into ONE of the jean legs. You just have to look on the bright side! Plus, and to be honest...once the surgery is done, it's done and there is really no going back. Regretting something that you can't change is a recipe for having a miserable life. I just made sure that all my mental ducks were in a row before I went under the knife and that I had a good support system in place for when I did get stressed out.

Everyone is different but I wouldn't trade the life that I live now for anything, and would go through it all again if I had to. Hopefully this helped some, and good luck with your journey!

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Lyra you're a sweetheart for having read my whole long-winded post and given me some answers from your personal experience. Thank you!

I also REALLY like your attitude about no remorse. I don't think I'd ever regret it, because I want this change so badly, and I WANT food to not be the focus of my life anymore. So I won't regret it if I don't love food anymore. I think perhaps any remorse I might have will be if I'm hurting a great deal in recovery. I'll just have to enjoy pain meds and know it will get better. If being in a lot of pain even happens. ......Ah, I see that I am worrying about something that may not even happen...that's not very productive is it? ;)

Oooh kickboxing! :D I hadn't even thought of that! That sounds awesome and I'm adding it to my list!!

I loved reading about your experiences. You've definitely helped. Thank you!

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I have no buyer's remorse whatsoever. Best decision of my life. I wish I had it done 50lbs ago! I'm trying to remember all of your questions...

The anesthesia...nah...you won't remember anything. It will be very fuzzy before and after. And a huge chunk in the middle you won't even have a memory of. I haven't had any aversion to food...yet. I can basically eat anything I could before hand. The only thing I ate that was "bad" was a couple days ago...I had a spoonful of this frosting that I was making for my cupcakes for a work party. I had never made it before and wanted to make sure it was good (because I didn't have all of the ingredients and kind of improvised) so I tasted a spoonful...well a half hour later...I had severe stomach cramps...and had to use the toilet. I was like never again!!! Besides that I've stayed pretty safe as far as food choices go. My taste buds haven't changed at all. I definitely don't have the urge to eat all the things that I used to.

Loose skin? I know I will have it. When I was 18 and lost all my weight...I already had loose skin on my arms and my belly below my piko! So if I had it then, I know I will have it now, but much worse. I don't know why people talk about being able to get rid of it or if you lose weight slowly you won't have it. That is a bunch of crock. Some people...genetically (like myself) will just have it based on where fat is distributed and skin elasticity. You know your body best...thats something you will have to figure out.

I took 2 weeks off of work, but probably could have gone back 4 days later. My job is very sit down, no heavy lifting...so easy peasy!!! I definitely would take a few days off...just for you to sleep!

slow loser fast loser? Well...my goal was to lose 30lbs my first month...I have only lost 20lbs. I am not a patient person...so I really wanted my numbers to go down before I go to Ny in May. But after really thinking about it...20lbs in 4 weeks is nothing to fret about! all in all...it doesn't matter...as long as it is coming off then thats great!

Dr. Fowler will give you a picture of your stomach if you want it...just ask him...I have mine...it is when he is inside your body. Pretty cool!

I really think Dr. Fowler tries really hard not to make too many incisions. My belly button isn't pretty, but thats not his fault. It was from my teenage years when I had an infected belly button ring. The other 3 incisions look fine too! very small.

As far as the husband goes...well...no worries. You are already investing your time, money and emotions in this. As long as he knows you are going to do it, then he will be just fine...and afterwards...you will prove to him it was worth it.

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Have you seen a therapist? I wish I had before surgery. As ready as I was for the change, I didn't have the skills to cope with it. Being a few weeks out, I've been grieving for the way things were and worrying about the things to come. The surgery doesn't fix what's going on in your head, it fixes your capacity and can fix your hunger. The single psych visit was not enough for me. With my insurance, it required a 6 month supervised diet. I thought that was a waste of time. I wish they'd had 6 months of required therapy to make sure you were ready.

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No problem and glad that my long, rambling answer helped some. As for the pain, well, if my family had a personal philosophy it would most likely be "this too shall pass" and "there is no use worrying about something that hasn't happened yet". Keeping that in mind has helped me get through a lot of the ups and downs. As for kickboxing, I highly recommend it as it's both a great stress reliever (especially during stalls or angsty moments) and really helps with getting back muscle tone!

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:D thanks everyone! I know the majority of my questions are of the just-have-to-wait-n-see variety. I hope to come back in a few months and be able to answer each one with my personal experience.

LifetimeLoser! :D girl! I read today that you've actually achieved your goal of 30lbs! Awesome! You're doing so well and it sounds like physically you're doing really well as far as recovery from the surgery. I'm so glad! I will ask Dr F for a pic. I'm sure it will be lovely. lol. OOh you should post yours on the board though! People would love to see!

Juny-- I think you're on to something there! I really think, now that you mention it, that 6 mos psych counseling would be infinitely more beneficial than nutritional counseling for most of us. I know me for sure. I've never been afraid to ask for help, so there's no stigma as far as I'm concerned. I ~know~ all the proper diet guidelines. I was a leader for WW years ago for goodness sake! My problem is that I cannot control myself to follow it. And in a way, it messes with my head even more knowing what to do but not being able to do it! I had a dream the other night where I was going into surgery and this disembodied voice said "you need to deal with your food addiction". Ha ! Not very symbolic for a dream is it? My subconscious was being pretty darn straightforward!

Lyra :) My mom was a military kid, and her philosophy has always been to "walk it off". I've teased that even if I broke my leg she would tell me to "walk it off". BUT...she had a double knee replacement and the reason she has full range of motion now & better than ever is because she was so good about getting up and walking during her recovery!

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